The weekend Kids Tri clinic at Magens Bay Beach gave youngsters some good swimming, biking and running practice for the Rotary Sunrise Kids Triathlon scheduled for April.
The actual triathlon event, which will kick off bright and early on April 12, is now in its fourth year, and event organizers and volunteers come out early each year for the clinic that preps participants for the course and gives them some time on their bikes, in the water and training on the back roads of the beach with real running coaches.
All the usual faces – from V.I. Source Publisher Shaun Pennington to V.I. Triathlon Federation President Scott Fricks – were out and about for this weekend’s clinic, which saw several more youngsters, parents and volunteers than last year. Organizers have said that participation in both the clinic and the triathlon grows annually and, on Saturday, it appeared that everyone had a story to tell about how much the triathlon continues to inspire the territory’s children to become more outgoing, athletic and health-conscious.
“I used to be a primary school teacher at Jane E. Tuitt Elementary and the school’s gym teacher always used to promote the event, so we’ve been involved since the very first year,” said Tiana Wilson, who spoke about her daughter, Ayana Frett.
“They do an excellent job here at the triathlon – they keep the kids safe, they make sure everyone is having a good time and they also make sure the kids really perform,” Wilson said. “The first year my daughter participated, she and her team won second place, and from there, she joined the track team at her school, got involved doing swim classes and a lot of other things.”
“She’s not really the athletic type,” Wilson added. “She’s very shy so I think her wanting to do these things is a testament to her experience with the triathlon.”
The goal of the triathlon is to teach youth from 5 to 15 year olds across St. Thomas and St. John about everything from the benefits of competition to healthy eating habits and nutrition.
Triathlon organizer Susan MacFarland-Helton said, “Rotary Sunrise puts on this event because we want to be able to provide a fun and safe event for kids. One of the benefits of the triathlon is that it exposes kids to three sports they can do for their rest of their life, while encouraging to keep healthy.”
“We have done this three times already and each year more and more people come out to help us, more and more people get involved, and that is what makes this all possible,” she added. “And we hear great stories all the time from different parents who get excited because their kid has joined the tack team or now come to Magens Bay regularly to ride their bike – and that’s incredible to hear.”
Along with the St. Thomas Club of Rotary Sunrise, Scotiabank is the signature sponsor of the Kids Triathlon through its Bright Futures program and Innovative has signed on this year as a major sponsor, Pennington said.